Have you ever confronted yourself with this question: “Why is Christianity at such a low ebb when it comes to Bible knowledge?” It is … and I’m sure you will agree with me. By lack of Bible knowledge, I am not talking about where to find a Book of the Bible, or what the Old Testament or New Testament is, or who Jesus Christ is, or being able to recite a few verses off by heart. Many can do this and many are able to speak at great length about certain beliefs they have … but is this Bible knowledge? Very often, people can be good when it comes to church dogma and culture … that is, why we do why we do what we do … but is this Bible knowledge?
You’ll pardon me for using the term “gimmick”. Many churches use gimmicks to grow their church, excite their people, fill the coffers and keep people coming back. The first part of the gimmick is telling the people what they want to hear. The content of this could vary significantly, but what they hear brings them back.
Another part of the gimmick is using slogans that are catchy and can be repeated endlessly as if that slogan is actual Bible. Similar churches will use similar slogans, and this tends to create the impression that the slogan is God’s Word.
Still another aspect of the gimmick is to use charm. Charm could be the way you dress, the shoes, the haircut, the hanky popping out of the jacket pocket, the watch … not forgetting the gold rings. Before the speaker opens his mouth, all these things create the atmosphere for charm. The better the speaker looks, the better the impression is created that when the listeners do what he says … they too could look like him and have what he has.
Perhaps another aspect to the gimmick is to use emotionalism. This is an extremely powerful tool, because once you have psyched up people you can get them to believe and do just about anything.
But where is all this Bible knowledge? Nowhere in all of Scripture does it say a speaker, preacher or pastor must use any or all of the above gimmicks to capture souls. The question remains: “Is this Bible knowledge?”
Richard Baxter was a Puritan. He said, “If ever you would be converted, labour for true knowledge.” His words make you think that all of the above mentioned gimmicks might sway people to do and believe certain things may lack true knowledge! In a different way, the Jews in Rome were dominated by a “works religion”. Paul prays for them:
Ro 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Zeal is what was done then and is done now that is mostly not based upon knowledge. In contrast, Biblical knowledge leads to knowing God and His will. Look how Paul prays for the Church at Colossae:
Col 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
He prays they will have a knowledge of God’s will through … look at it … “spiritual wisdom and understanding”. That can only mean knowledge and wisdom come through Scripture! The Puritans had a passion to be “educators of the mind.” Their principle was “light before heat”, meaning Scripture must be put into the mind to change the will, shaping it according to God’s will, before the heat of change could be sought!
Look at Paul’s writings to the Church at Philippi:
Phil 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
How do you “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”? You educate your mind! How do you educate your mind? You allow God to “[work] in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” That is, through the proper use of the Bible coupled to proper listening to expositional sermons and regular Bible Studies, you allow God to do His part in “[continuing] to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”.
Remember … the Bible is God’s Holy Word and it must make an impact in continued salvation and growing in holiness (remember, growing in holiness is the practical side of salvation!). You need to educate your mind with Scripture to change your worldview and to change your life into a Biblical worldview and a Gospel lifestyle.
Now, if the Puritans were “educators of the mind”, then preachers today must not fall victim to gimmicks and be “educators of the congregation’s minds”. Listen to the way Jesus explained it to the apostles in Matthew:
Ma 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Once souls were saved and initiated into the Christian faith, the teachers’ duty was to be “teaching them to obey everything [Christ has] commanded you.” This refers to the whole will of God that needs to be taught to the converts. The pulpit today is the platform to teach … not to use gimmicks or tactics … but to teach the whole will of God! Paul followed this instruction from Jesus in Acts:
Ac 20:26 “Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.”
Why was Paul innocent of their blood before God … because he proclaimed–taught to them–the whole will of God. He taught them all the Scriptures! Do we?
Dear God, help me to learn properly and help preachers to teach correctly so that Your people might have a good working knowledge of the whole will of God to live for You and to serve You as well as for their eternal benefit. For Jesus’ sake, amen.